A common question every estate planning lawyer gets is, “How much do you charge for a will?” There is no single answer. A will is not a standardized product. Each will has unique characteristics based on a person’s financial, family, and legal situation.
Estate Planning Is Not Always So Simple
Speaking in broad terms, estate planning attorneys generally offer simple wills on a flat-fee basis, usually between $500 and $1500 dollars, depending on circumstances such as marital status and property. What do we mean by a “simple will”? A simple will is guidance or advice to the Probate Court directing where you want your assets to go after you’ve died. If you own assets over the minimum level of $22,000 in your own name at the time of your death, your estate will go to probate. The will is a part of that probate process.
But now let’s say you have a lot of assets and multiple heirs. You may need to minimize your potential gift and estate tax liability. A simple will may not be the best tool for the job. In fact, you may want to create a trust or employ other strategies, such as charitable giving, which require more than a boilerplate will. This obviously requires more time and skill on the part of the attorney, which translates into a higher flat fee, or in some cases an hourly billing arrangement.
Keep in mind, your estate planning situation may be more complicated than you initially think. If you are divorced and remarried, your will may need to account for children from different marriages, as well as the terms of your divorce settlement. You may also want to consider the relative financial and personal circumstances of your children or other beneficiaries.
Do Not Do It Yourself
Some people think they can save a few dollars by writing their own will using a preprinted form they buy online or at the office supplies store. This is a bad idea. For one thing, laws governing wills and probate are state-specific. A preprinted form is unlikely to fully incorporate Michigan law. Second, preprinted forms often omit important clauses that can actually undermine the intention of the person making the will. This can lead to confusion and unnecessary litigation after the person dies.
Working with a Portage elder law attorney is never a waste of money. To the contrary, it may be one of the best investments you can make to secure your family’s future. Contact the Law Offices of David L. Carrier, P.C., today to schedule a consultation with an attorney who will help you develop a will specifically tailored to your needs.